Scripture Note.

Hebrews 13:7, 17.

The misconception which has grown out of these scriptures springs from an error in translation. It is not those "that have the rule over you," for this would imply the office of elders, but it is rather "your leaders," or those "who have the lead among you." There is a great difference between these two things: in the former case it would be an ecclesiastical office, before the ruin and confusion had set in, as, for example, like that indicated in Paul's direction to Titus, "Appoint elders in every city"; in the latter it describes such as those who, through spiritual power and divine gift in the ministry of the word, are qualified for the guidance and help of the saints; those who, through their devoted service and ministry, are marked out by the Lord and acknowledged by the saints as leaders. There is no such thing in Scripture as any taking the place of lead, or regarding themselves as leaders because they superintend, or care for, the business of the assembly. The characteristics of the leaders here given support the above conclusions. Remember, says the apostle, those who have the rule over you (your leaders), who have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation, or, more accurately, "considering the issue of their conversation, imitate their faith." These things, then, distinguished their leaders; they had ministered the word of God, they had lived such devoted lives, believing upon Him who is the same yesterday, today, and for ever, that, now they had passed away, the apostle could call upon the saints to treasure up their memory, and to imitate their faith. These were their past leaders, who had kept the faith until death; in verse 17 they are the living leaders. Another feature of leadership, enhancing its solemn character, is here given: "They watch for your souls as they that must give account," etc. They were thus devoted to the Lord in caring for the spiritual welfare of the saints, and were to remember at the same time that in this service they were responsible to the Lord alone, and that to Him they would have to render account (not for the souls of the saints, but for their ministry) before His judgment-seat. How solemn a thing it is, then, to be in the place of a leader! And in this connection it may be recalled that in the seven churches the angels of the churches (and these include all who lead and all who teach) are held responsible for the state of the churches. There is one thing more: the saints are to obey those who are true leaders, and to submit themselves. Is it asked if this is carried out in practice? In some cases undoubtedly so, and where scriptural leaders are found, and where ready obedience and submission to them is rendered, there order and blessing will be seen; but where man and man's will, independency, prevail, there envying and strife will be produced, with their bitter fruits of confusion and every evil work.